Google BigQuery

The Objectiv Collector can be configured to work with BigQuery through Snowplow on Google Cloud Platform. The Snowplow GCP setup uses GCP PubSub topics (message queue) to connect various stages in the pipeline.

How to set up Objectiv on GCP using Snowplow


We assume below that you've already read how to set up Objectiv with Snowplow.

The setup works as follows:

  1. Events arrive at the Objectiv Collector, and are validated;
  2. Good events are published on the raw topic on PubSub (which is read by the Enrich process); and
  3. Bad events (invalid) are published on the bad topic on PubSub.

Starting the Collector

The configuration for the collector is controlled through environment variables that configure which outputs are used. Settings specific to the PubSub sink are:

  • SP_GCP_PROJECT: The id of the project on GCP where the PubSub topic is located;
  • SP_GCP_PUBSUB_TOPIC_RAW: The id of the PubSub topic to publish events to;
  • SP_GCP_PUBSUB_TOPIC_BAD: The id of the PubSub topic to publish bad/invalid events to;
  • GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS: The path to a json containing a service account on GCP that allows publishing to the PubSub topic.

If these are set, the Snowplow sink is automatically enabled.

Using docker-compose

To run this setup in Docker, make sure that the aforementioned environment variables are properly set and available in the container. Also take care that the path to the credentials is actually available in the container.

When using docker-compose, the following yaml snippet will do the trick:

container_name: objectiv_collector
image: objectiv/backend
working_dir: /services
- ""
- /path/to/YOUR_SERVICE_ACCOUNT.json:/sa.json
SP_GCP_PROJECT: some-gcp-project

The important parts here are:

  • Using a volume to make the service account available inside the container;
  • Assigning the path of the volume-mapped file correctly to the environment variable;
  • Setting the 2 GCP/PubSub variables, to make sure the collector knows where to push the events to.

Running locally

Running the collector locally, in a dev setup is pretty similar:

# setup environment
virtualenv objectiv-venv
source objectiv-venv/bin/activate
pip install -r

# start flask app
cd objectiv_backend
SP_GCP_PROJECT=some-gcp-project \
flask run

Test the setup

The Collector will display a message if the Snowplow config is loaded: Enabled Snowplow: GCP pipeline.

This indicates that the Collector will try to push events. If this fails, logging should hint what's happening. If there are no errors in the collector logs, the events should be successfully pushed into the raw topic, to be picked up by Snowplow's enrichment.

To check if messages have been successfully received by the PubSub topic, please refer to the monitoring of that specific topic in the GCP console. The Publish message request count monitoring topic should show more than 0 requests/sec.

Connect to BigQuery in your notebook

See how to get started in your notebook to connect to the BigQuery database and start modeling.

BigQuery table structure

In a standard Snowplow BigQuery setup, all data is stored in a table called events. Objectiv data is stored in the table by mapping the Objectiv event properties on the respective Snowplow properties. Objectiv's contexts are stored in custom contexts.


Event and some context properties are mapped onto the events table directly.

Global contexts

Every global context has its own custom context, and thus its own column in the database. Columns in the database will be named: contexts_io_objectiv_context_some_global_context_1_0_0 containing a property for each of the properties in the original Objectiv context.

NOTE: the _type and _types properties have been removed.

Location stack

As order is significant in the location stack, a slightly different approach is taken in storing it. The location stack is stored as a nested structure in context_io_objectiv_location_stack_1_0_0.